Kathmandu University MSc I Year
An ecosystem is a dynamic complex process between living organism (plant, animal, and micro-organism communities) and the nonliving environment, interacting as a functional unit. Humans are an integral part of ecosystem. Ecosystem provides various services to living organisms which is vital for their survival and is commonly known as ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are those services provided by the natural environment, directly or indirectly, that benefit people, unintentionally, provide a flow of ecosystem goods and services (natural capital stock) critical to the functioning of the earth’s life-supporting system. Ecosystem provides four services for the survival and enhancing human life which are provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting function.
Provisioning Function refers to the products obtained from ecosystem. For example: food, fibers, fuel, flowers, genetic resources, natural medicines, etc.
Regulating Function refers to benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes. For example: Air quality maintenance, water regulation, climate regulation, Erosion control, water purification, waste water treatment, pollination etc.
Cultural Function are the nonmaterial benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and aesthetic experiences, including spiritual and religious value, cultural heritage, aesthetic value, recreation and eco-tourism among others.
Supporting services are those that are necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services. They differ from provisioning, regulating, and cultural services in that their impacts on people are either indirect or occur over a longer time frame, whereas changes in the other categories have relatively direct and short-term impacts on people
For example, humans do not directly use soil formation services, although changes in this would indirectly affect people through the impact on the provisioning service of food production. The production of oxygen gas (through photosynthesis) is categorized as a supporting service since any impacts on the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere would only occur over an extremely long time. Some other examples of supporting services are primary production, nutrient cycling, water cycling, and provisioning of habitat.